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Testimony: Soldiers arrest and beat three Palestinian youths, Jan. '09

Update: On 12 September 2010 the MAG Corps informed B'Tselem that the investigation file had been closed. The grounds for closing the case were not given.

Nihaya Hun, mother of eight

Nihaya Hun

My husband is an official in the Nablus municipality, and we live on a monthly salary of 1,800 shekels [approx. 420 US dollars]. It's barely enough to buy food. I bake bread at home and use wood for heating and to heat water for washing. We don't have land of our own.

Last Thursday [15 January], around 9:30 A.M., I asked my children to go gather dry branches for heating from my father's plot of land, which lies a kilometer north of the village, in a-Najma. My sons Islam, 17, Lu'ai, 16, and Muaiad, 15, went. They're on the mid-year school break after having finished their tests. I told them I'd join them when I finished doing laundry.

About quarter of an hour later, I went to join them. I didn't like their being there alone, because there are settlers and soldiers in our area. They don't let us cross the settlement's road, which is about 600 meters from the village. You have to cross this road to get to the plot.

When I got to the road, I saw two army jeeps and about ten soldiers. My children were sitting on the road, handcuffed. A soldier punched Lu'ai in the face and he fell. Another soldier hit Islam.

I went over to the soldiers to explain that I was their mother and that they had only gone to gather wood. The soldiers shouted at me, aimed their rifles at me, and told me to move back.

The soldiers beat my children with their hands and with the butts of their rifles. Every time I asked them to leave my children alone, they beat them harder. The soldiers laughed and aimed their weapons at me. I was afraid they'd shoot me or the children, so I moved back a bit and watched from a distance, from between the rocks. I couldn't properly see what was happening.

At 10:30, the jeeps drove toward the Beit Furik checkpoint. I went back to the road, but nobody was there. I realized they had arrested my children./>/>

I started walking to the checkpoint. On the way, I met someone and asked him to let me use his cell phone. I called my husband and told him what had happened.

At the checkpoint, there were four soldiers checking cars. I said to one of them, “Some soldiers in a jeep detained my sons on the bypass road,” and he said, in Arabic, “There aren't any children here.”

My husband came by taxi from Nablus. As I walked over to him, I saw my children next to a small room at the checkpoint. They were blindfolded and handcuffed. I said to the soldier, “There are my children!” My husband asked him, “Why are you detaining my children?” The soldier said, “They threw stones at the police.” My husband said, “They only went to get firewood, what has that got to do with throwing stones?” The soldier didn't reply.

The children were suffering. The handcuffs were hurting them. I said to a soldier, “The handcuffs are pressing on their hands, loosen them a bit!” but he refused.

We waited until 4:30, and then a jeep came and took my three children, we didn't know where. I begged the soldiers to release them, but they refused. Islam told me, “Mother, go and don't worry, we didn't do anything!” Then a soldier hit him in the head. I cried a lot. I didn't understand why we'd got into such trouble.

Around 7:00 P.M., somebody from the Israeli coordination and liaison office called us. He said that our youngest son, Muaiad, was at the Beit Furik checkpoint and that we had to come and take him. My husband and I went to get him.

Muaiad said that soldiers had taken them to the army base at Huwara and that soldiers had beat him and laughed at him. He said they'd asked him which party he supported and where he went to school. A soldier said to him, “You Palestinians are terrorists. What do think about what's happening in Gaza?”

Five days later, they released Islam and Lu'ai without filing any charges against them.

Nihaya Sedqi Muhammad Hun, 39, married with eight children, is a homemaker and a resident of Salem, in Nablus District. Her testimony was given to Salma a-Deba'i at the witness's house on 21 January 2009.